Macpac Pursuit Classic Tested

If there's a nuclear war, expect to see cockroaches wearing Macpac Pursuit Classics in the aftermath... We check out the latest incarnation of the legendary Kiwi mountain pack.

Posted: 9 June 2005
by Jon

Macpac Pursuit Classic Tested

Price: £110.00

Weight: 1750/1850 grammes (size 2/size 3)

Features: Available in womens, 2 and 3 sizes, capacities 50/50/55 litres respectively. Active Harness. AzTec HP and Kevlar Matrix fabrics, 10-litre overload lid extension, twin ice axe attachments and crampon patch, base pockets combine with side straps to carry skis or stakes, twin haul loops, waterproof AzTec fabric allows unique seam construction, gear loops on hip-belt.

As tough as old boots and then some.
No hydration facility, a bit weighty.

The Concept As you might have guessed from the name, the Pursuit Classic is the latest take on Macpac's legendary mountain workhorse. The latest straight Pursuit models, see our recent test, have been tweaked and refined with a more minimal hip-belt and Wraptor harness for a more specialised technical role, the Classic however is just how it's always been, a tough, stable, load-lugging pack that you can use for anything from a Scottish winter route , through weekend packing and up into the Alps.

That means a traditional back system and harness, a sturdy conventional hip-belt and, of course, Macpac's renowned AzTec fabric . So think, allround mountain pack with massive abuse resistance and you'll be about right.

Features Like we said, the Pursuit Classic is a traditional Macpac alpine sac. The tradition starts with Macpac's renowned AzTec fabric. AzTec is a combined cotton and polyester fabric which uses the two yarns twisted together into single strands. The yarn is then tightly woven into pack fabric.

The combination is rot resistant, strong and highly abrasion resistant too. The material's then impregnated with waxes and resins to make it waterproof, a property that's enhanced by the tendency of the cotton yarn to swell and fill in spaces in the fabric. . The base is reinforced with Kevlar Matrix material, which is light and strong.

AzTec's extreme durability is one of the main reasons that Macpac has earned a reputation as one of the few pack brands capable of taking the abuse meted out by alpine climbing and, in particular, sac hauling.

There nothing revolutionary going on with the rest of the pack's features, basically it's got everything you'd expect from a year-round mountain pack, but no frills. The Active back system doesn't feed loads into the hip-belt directly like the new Wraptor set-up, but it's a well proven arangement with internal bars, a pronounced lumbar pad and neat side-stabiliser straps that let you cinch the hip-belt right in.

In Action With so many innovative products hitting the outdoors market, it's sometimes easy to forget that proven, conventional constructions can work extremely well. The Classic is distinctively and obviously a Pursuit with the distinctive tear-drop shape and tapered top echoing its forbearers.

The shape seems to work for load distribution too, keeping weight low and close to the hips, which is great for stability and makes the sac easy to carry on rough and technical terrain when the last thing you need is to be pulled off balance by a poorly distributed load. That's helped by the quietly competent harness and back system which simply gets on with the job.The sac is available in two men's and a women's size, but there's also adjustment in the top straps allowing a close fit.

We stuffed it full of climbing kit and it swallowed it all happily and still carried well. We used it part full too and again, it was fine. Just cinch up the straps to hold it in and close to the body. The bits and bobs worked fine and the adjustable lid gives overload potential if you need it.

One thing we can't really test, but where we reckon the Pursuit Classic would shine, is long term durability. The materials used feel tough and have a long history of reliable performance and there's an absence of soft, meshy material that's generally the first thing to wear through. The back system may not wick as well as the latest high-tec wicking mesh constructions, but we suspect it'll last a whole lot longer as well.

Downsides? We missed having any sort of hydration system facility and kept trying to bite the righthand shoulder strap and the big hip-belt may cover harness gear loops, though to be fair, there are two loops sewn onto the pack belt to compensate.


Macpac have been churning out Pursuits for years now and it shows. It's a classic mountain workhorse of a pack that we reckon will still be doing the business when many of its competitors have gone to the home for retired packs... The AzTex material is tough as a tough thing and makes the pack highly weather resistant too, while the traditional back system and teardrop shape make for a stable and comfortable carry with medium loads.

The sturdiness is reflected in the weight, so if you want to shave the grammes, you may be better off looking elsewhere. Ditto is you feel it's essential to have a hydration bladder pocket, though with ingenuity you could probably manage. It' s not flashy and it's not gimmicky, but it gets up every morning and gets on with the job. What more could you ask for?



Macpac web site

Pushed for time: Latest incarnation of Macpac's classic mountaineering pack with bombproof fabrics and construction, all the features you need and none that you don't and a stable, comfortable carry. In the event of nuclear war, expect to see cockroaches carrying Pursuit classics...

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